Dancing with the Limp

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

I was thinking about these Anne Lamott lines, which I love and think of often, the other day in yoga.  I separated my left shoulder years ago, which healed up with lots of physical therapy, and in the last few months my right shoulder has been hurting.  I went to see the orthopedic surgeon, who took x-rays and told me it looks like I have some early arthritis in the shoulder.  Wow.  That will make you feel old in a hurry.

But that morning in yoga, I moved cautiously, nervous about pain.  It was my first time on the mat since my shoulder started hurting. I was slow, and deliberate, but I was there.  And I thought about learning to dance with the limp.  And then, of course, my brain hopscotched to all the other ways we’re learning to dance with the limp these days.  I’m growing accustomed to the surge of sorrow that accompanies Dad’s voice in my head, or thoughts of him, which come at random, often, and sometimes with blinding pain.

There are so many limps I’m learning to dance with at once right now.  Most of all, learning to live without Dad, and without John, both of whom were daily parts of my life (and the lives of my children and husband).  Those are big accommodations to make, and I’ll never stop missing them, but I am learning to move forward.  Slow going, one step forward, and one step back, but just like the way I adjust upward dog to not tweak my shoulder too much, I am learning.

What I love about Lamott’s quote is her assertion that we never seal our hearts back up.  I never will, and I think that’s okay.  It’s been 3 months to the day (yesterday) since my father died and I am grateful that I still hear his voice in my head.  I hope I always do.

I have written about our scars before, and about how we all have them.  We are all dancing with a variety of kinds of limps, there’s no question about that. What also seems unquestionable is that as we grow up we accumulate scars and limps, things are dancing with, darknesses of the spirit, hurts, wounds, losses.

And yet we dance on.

6 thoughts on “Dancing with the Limp”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. It is beautiful. It’s been 15 yrs since I lost my father and almost 3 yrs since I lost my mom. I wouldn’t say I miss them any less – some days more as my children continue to grow up without them and as I age and enter into new seasons that I wish my parents were still around for. The pain is less than in the early years – not gone – just different. I agree we are left with a limp and it’s up to us what we will do with the limp – if it will stop us from fully living or if we will dance with our limp. Thanks for reminding me to keep dancing.

  2. Lindsey – I have been so enjoying your posts for the past year or so – and my heart is with you as you navigate this new territory of grief and loss. When I was just 35 years old with two small children, my father died very suddenly, as yours did, of a heart attack. I can certainly tell you that it changes you forever, but through the pain you learn a great deal about being human, about empathy and sympathy, about treasuring the moments and the memories. Just yesterday, as I was speaking with my now grown son about loss and navigating heartache, my tears flowed while telling him about how I still feel about his grandfather, how I felt when he died and all the love I still feel when I remember him now. The loss is real and hard but the love is always there. Be kind to yourself. Understand that grief is not linear and that there is no time limit on that grief. Allow the tears to come. All the best to you as you travel this difficult road.

  3. I wish I could make the pain disappear for you. Thank you for sharing it – we all have unsealed hearts that don’t make sense and what a comfort it is to read your words. Many days, I wish I could shop for a new heart, but no dice.

    Take care of your sore wing. xoxo

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